School children enjoy tall stories with giant storytelling chair


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A giant storyteller’s chair made from willow saplings and oak has been unveiled at a primary school in Kinmel Bay.

The 10ft high chair at Ysgol Maes Owen was officially opened by the mayor, Cllr Bill Darwin, who was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The chair was made by pupils with the help of willow weaver Rosie Farey when they selected and cut saplings from a coppice near the Chester Avenue Community House which is managed by housing association Cartrefi Conwy.

It’s now taking pride of place in the school grounds thanks to a partnership between Cartrefi Conwy, Towyn and Kimnel Bay Town Council and Welsh Water.

To the delight of pupils, professional story teller Fiona Collins, from Carrog, near Corwen, was on hand to enthral children with a host of traditional folk tales and fairy stories.

Cllr Darwin said: “The idea for the storyteller’s chair is a brilliant one and the children will see it grow and develop as time passes.

“It’s a great teaching resource for the school and I’m sure countless children will benefit from having it here in the school grounds.

“I’m sure all the pupils of Ysgol Maes Owen will get great benefit from having the storyteller’s chair here. It’s about self-expression and giving children the chance to learn in a different and stimulating way.”

He added: “And to get a professional storyteller here for the official unveiling of the chair is fantastic. To hear her folk stories of the history of Wales has been wonderful.

“Cartrefi Conwy has been very active in Kinmel bay and the staff have worked exceptionally hard in developing the area through partnership working with the Chester Avenue community.

“I know their work is appreciated and is benefitting the community in many ways. And the living storyteller’s chair is a prime example of that.”

According to acting head teacher Sian Wilkinson, the chair is already proving to be a great asset to the school.

She said: “The fact children helped harvest the willow that has been used in making the living chair gives them a sense of ownership. We now have a fantastic resource that can only be good for helping us improve literacy and language.

Professional storyteller Fiona Collins: “Storytelling is a living tradition and the fact the seat is formed around living willow is a wonderful idea.”

Year 3 pupil Mia Witherspoon, eight, said: “It’s really good and means we have somewhere outside to listen to stories and somewhere where we can sit and talk.”

Cartrefi Conwy’s Zara Roberts, the Chester Avenue Community House manager, explained: “Working with the Chester Avenue Action Group, which is based at the Community House, we wanted a project that had literacy at its heart and believe the living willow chair will really add something to the education of all Ysgol Maes Owen pupils.

“The chair, which has an oak base, has been moulded from willow which will continue to grow. Children will have to look after and maintain the chair pruning it throughout the year.

“It’s a wonderful resource and a living creation and means children will enjoy storytelling outdoors. It really will be something different and something children will, I’m sure, become very proud of.”

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